Dodgers tab Wood to Hill's spot in rotation

Lefty will make his first start Monday against the Cubs

Dodgers tab Wood to Hill's spot in rotation

DENVER -- Alex Wood, sent to the bullpen at the end of Spring Training, will start in place of Rich Hill on Monday against the Cubs, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed on Saturday. Hill is on the 10-day disabled list with a chronic finger blister.

Wood, whose lone appearance out of the bullpen during the week was two hitless innings against the Padres on Wednesday, wouldn't speculate on his role after Monday.

"It's just one start, but I'm happy to get it," said Wood. "I'll take advantage of the opportunity and whatever happens, happens."

Wood's 2016 season was interrupted by elbow clean-up surgery, but he recovered in time to contribute during the postseason. He was unable to wrestle a spot in the starting rotation from the more experienced Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu out of camp, in part because Wood has pitched effectively out of the bullpen.

Wood's velocity has been solid all spring, but it jumped a couple ticks against the Padres into the 93-95 mph range. Roberts said he's hoping to get 75 pitches from Wood at Wrigley Field. Wood is 1-2 with a 3.79 ERA against the Cubs, 0-1 with a 4.19 ERA at Wrigley.

"I don't know if I can sit 95 [mph]," Wood said with a laugh, "but my velo has been good all spring, pretty much 91-94 most starts, which is as good as I've been since probably my first year of '13. It's coming out good, I feel sharp and I look forward to challenge on Monday."

Wood credited being extra amped up coming out of the bullpen for his high end velocity on Wednesday. He doesn't buy the argument that some pitchers throw harder out of the bullpen because they don't need to pace themselves for 75-100 pitches.

"I truly feel it's pure adrenaline," he said. "After that, guys have different opinions. I feel like where I sat was definitely higher than my top of spring, but where I was sitting wasn't too much more than where it's been all spring. Having the top higher gives me confidence, because mechanically I've been really good.

"As long as I'm sitting in a consistent range, I feel good about it. It's been a while since I got up to 95. Last year I felt mechanically close to where I was my first two years. Now I've put it back together and I feel really good. I told Andrew [Friedman, president of baseball operations] this spring I might get another kick in velocity because of my mechanics. And I'm sure eight days rest had a little to do with it."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.